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2022: A year of constitutional crises, the B word and redefining neutrality


Mar 21, 2007
United States

2022: A year of constitutional crises, the B word and redefining neutrality

The year began and promises to end in chaos. On both ends, our peculiar definition of neutrality is to blame.

Abdul Moiz Jaferii
December 26, 2022

This year cannot be summarised or even properly begun without talking about October of last year. It is what set this year up, and also set the tone for what will happen in 2023. It was the rip heard around the country — the day the one page became two. Or maybe three. Gone were the chief and the aspiring next chief, along with their favourite in chief. It was now back to the original Pakistani conundrum — a weak civilian government, at odds with the military establishment.

If we were to step back for a moment and take a bird’s-eye view of our country and the average Pakistani, the politicians of this year, the commentators who have dominated our airwaves and even those who enjoy clout on social media, they would show themselves as fickle or even callous.

The country experienced a super flood, with more than half of its fertile land inundated at one point. Some of its tillable land is still submerged. Illegal and irregular constructions across the water routes in the north were brought down by the roaring flood waters, while the year’s accumulated farming gains were wiped out in a matter of hours for millions of the country’s poorest farmers.

A lack of international interest from a world, which we are told is fatigued with crises, failed to spark the same level of national interest in helping the flood affectees that has occurred in the past. Pakistan has resultantly gotten weaker and its average citizen poorer this year.

Even those not directly effected by the floods have seen their diet become more sparse, while the caloric deficit has widened in the face of inflation and crippling price increases as wages remain stagnant. More children are malnourished than ever before and there are more children than there should be than ever before.

Whatever little there is to eat for the common man, is largely imported from abroad. The onion, the daal and the oil it is cooked in, which comprises some form of combination of the poor man’s meal, largely come from foreign farms. Stories of these foodstuffs being stranded at the port during the import tightening made the papers, as did stories of the flood of luxury electric vehicle imports due to favourable import policies.

The yawning difference between energy required and calories consumed is made up by the demon that is our sugar industry, leading to higher incidence of diabetes and coronary diseases. But that is every year, not just this one.


On the political front, the year began and promises to end in chaos. On both ends, our peculiar definition of neutrality is to blame. In the beginning of the year, what it meant to be neutral suddenly found itself in flux. It began to mean the changing of direction proxy political camps who are through incentive or coercion beholden to you. Where they were previously told to goose step behind the great cricketing hope, they were now being nudged and cajoled into once again supporting the political dynasties the great hope had been so recently helped to rise against.

The end of the year sees the continuing effect of what we call neutrality — a deflated Imran Khan, sitting with an even more deflated Pervez Elahi, announcing a date within a date; after which date Pervez Elahi comes out and censures Imran’s commentary about those that would be neutral. We are looking towards the end of this union in the coming days, turning on legal procedures that the Supreme Court had so recently decided upon cementing in what was then Elahi and Imran’s favour. The year may yet end with Elahi losing the title of CM Punjab and back to being called the province’s biggest Daku [thief].

Imran’s politics have also come full circle. For a man who notoriously doesn’t like apologising or admitting fault, we have found him surprisingly able to admit his mistakes if you give him one condition — that it was actually made on someone else’s recommendation.

So our post-neutrality Imran admits that he was mistaken to run the accountability drive the way he did, he was mistaken to give chief neutral the extension he did, he was mistaken to have allowed inflation to rise at alarming levels and the dollar rate to have spiked during his tenure and he was mistaken to have filed a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. One mistake he is yet to admit is the one involving the suicide bombing of the economy through the petroleum subsidy right before he was ousted from office.

The first noteworthy headline of the year now seems like a cruel joke — that the PDM parties were ready to march against inflation. One glance at what has become of inflation since they took over government, despite it being Imran’s fault as they pray their electorate believes, and they would be required to march daily against themselves.
Imran, meanwhile, began the year as a prime minister who swore piety and Islamic rule with no idea what to do with the country he was actually leading, and proceeded to bomb the economy by way of a petroleum subsidy once he lost his military crutch which led to a successful vote of no confidence against him.

He ends the year as the country’s most popular politician, having taken on the establishment in a way that has never been done before, while accepting that he was a product of their nursery. This comes with the added benefit of blaming them for all of his faults — which Imran khan is getting better at as his electorate repeatedly evidences no consequences of such actions.

That Imran wanted Riyasat-e-Madina in public, while allegedly leaning more towards Emperor Caligula in private, is another issue that his loyal legions have already batted off as mere slanderous propaganda.


The year started with Imran’s government forming a board to examine former premier Nawaz Sharif’s medical reports. It has ended with demands being made from within the Sharif government to form a board to examine Imran’s alleged leaked phone conversations.

If you were to use these as a reflection of the status of each individual’s politics, you would be mistaken. For all the health problems and doctors’ visits last January, Nawaz Sharif’s politics were healthy and virile. As the year ends, despite having a brother as prime minister and his ideal finance minister in Ishaq Dar and despite having picked his choice of army chief, Sharif’s politics are in need of medical examination.

Imran, meanwhile, has gone from being out of his depth in office, with an economic storm brewing ahead which would have likely sunk his ship, to being absolved of all his incompetence by the perceived unfairness of his dismissal. And by the eclipsing incompetence of his successors.

In eight months since April this year, Nawaz Sharif and his brother’s government have managed to do what seemed impossible in March — they have patched up with the establishment, buried what was then the country’s most popular narrative (vote ko Izzat dou [respect the vote]) and once again stabbed every principled person who they had fooled this time into supporting them.

The Sharifs have yet again built a pyramid of skulls and sacrifice to protect their personal interests, comforts and political expediency. Within this magnificent tomb they have buried what took their supporters 24 years to build — the PML-N as Punjab’s most popular party.


The PDM tested out the promise and extent of neutrality in February, sure that they had decided upon a vote of no confidence against Imran Khan, but not sure enough to give a date.

A date would mean putting the establishment on the line and asking them to put their money where their mouth was.


Marching against inflation quickly escalated into the PDM testing the extent of the rip in the one page by way of marching on Islamabad. At the same time, the PTI wanted to test the extent of the rip by planning a power show at D Chowk.

Thereafter, the PTI government tried its hands at ripping up the Constitution, with the speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly acting as the joint conductors of Imran’s will at the expense of the law.

Novel readings of conspiracy and betrayal of the state led to a vote of no confidence being illegally dismissed; and our politics returned to chaos. Gone was the decade-long same page.


If there was one week where the Supreme Court of Pakistan absolved itself, it was the first week of April. From Qasim Suri riding roughshod over the Constitution to a clear announcement of that illegality and its reversal, the court took five days.

Why it took us over that rollercoaster is anyone’s guess, and at various moments, it looked precariously like a return to the past where a ‘yes but’ reset was about to play out. But the verdict was a clear and comprehensive endorsement of the constitutional process.

It would have been fairer to give the Supreme Court the month of April rather than just a week, had it not been for the fact that the musical chairs of the Punjab chief minister had begun shortly after the federal mayhem and the court had waded in.

By about this time, late in April, we had also learnt that the PDM government was going to continue with the financial suicide that was Imran’s petroleum subsidy and wanted to stick to power to resolve its own legal issues rather than seek the will of the people for a fresh mandate in the face of Imran gaining massive street support.


By mid-May, the Supreme Court had decided the presidential reference regarding voting by people against party lines, sent by President Alvi back when it was felt that the PDM would be purchasing PTI votes to dethrone Imran.
In deciding the reference, in order to curb the cancer of horse trading as the Supreme Court felt, the court decided to rewrite the Constitution. It did so on the premise that a dynamic view must be taken of the law, and its spirit must be looked at.

The spirit, it was decided, meant that the vote of dissenting lawmakers would not count, thus crushing the point of dissent and the very idea of no confidence — through an addition to the Constitution of the court’s own making. Along the way, it also made other crisp and clear articles of the Constitution effectively redundant.

By late May, Imran had started his long march “for real freedom” from what he was repeatedly and successfully labelling a foreign conspiracy. The Supreme Court directed the government to let him march to where he had promised to go to, and that there wouldn’t be any mayhem because Imran had assured he wasn’t going to D Chowk.

When Imran used the court order to march to D Chowk, the Supreme Court itself excused him the next day, with the CJP opining that he was probably not informed while the trees along Jinnah Avenue burned and Metro stations destroyed.

This was after the order from the day before had clearly only allowed the march to continue to the allocated venue on the express undertaking recorded by the court as received from the PTI and Imran Khan to not lead protesters to D chowk and to ensure no damage to property.


June saw the first signs of a far higher than average rainy season, which eventually culminated in a far heavier monsoon cycle across the summer, causing destruction to crops and infrastructure on an unprecedented level.
On the political front, June began with the PDM government officially tasking the ISI to screen civil servants before their induction, appointments and promotions. The Punjab CM chaos continued to be a judicial football, with Hamza Shehbaz hanging on but being told by the Supreme Court to not do anything too important.


July saw more monsoon destruction across the country. Politically, it saw more judicial intervention and destruction of the democratic system in Punjab. After lawmakers who crossed party lines and had voted for Hamza in Punjab were disqualified due to the SC opinion on floor crossers being a cancer and their votes not being counted even though the Constitution allowed for it, by-elections were held and the PDM widely expected the neutral atmosphere to help them out.

Every exit poll suggested a PML-N heavy victory in Punjab on the seats vacated by the PTI defectors being disqualified. Instead, Imran Khan and his party thumped home to a heavy victory, upending Punjab’s history of siding with incumbency and the establishment. It was here that non-partisan pundits began to worry seriously about the future of the PML-N and what it had truly paid as a price for clinging onto power in April.

When the CM votes were held thereafter, the Supreme Court was asked whether a party could take directions from its parliamentary head or its party chief. This was the same Supreme Court that had disqualified Nawaz Sharif from being the head of his party after he had been disqualified as the prime minister, on the premise that the party head was the actual mover and shaker who had authority over the parliamentarians and could trigger the disloyalty clause in the Constitution. Justice Bandial had authored the Nawaz judgment dripping with morality.

Now, the court was faced with a cunning last gambit: Chaudhry Shujaat, leader of his party, had instructed his parliamentarians to ignore its own candidate, Pervez Elahi, and vote for the PDM. This time, the Supreme Court decided that the parliamentary leader was what counted, the party head’s direction was irrelevant.
The grand judicial interventions of the summer had led to the cancer and rot of establishmentarian influence on the electoral process finally ending. This end delivered to us the worthy Pervez Elahi as the champion of the people’s will in Punjab.


The monsoon raged further across August, its unprecedented seventh cycle tormenting the country’s southern agrarian districts into a state of permanent deluge.

In politics, neutrality meant that the ECP finally ruled that the PTI received prohibited funds, after eight years of dithering during the same-page era when its decision would have actually counted for anything resembling justice.
The month also started with what was to become a pattern of neutrality — registering cases against the PTI’s second-tier leadership on charges of sedition and ‘inciting the public against state institutions’ when they made comments critical of the military’s role in politics. These charges continue to stand even after General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa admitted the military’s role in politics in his farewell speech. They continue to stand even after a change of guard in the military.

Strong-arming through draconian readings of criminal law and the use of oblique cyber crime laws was first thought up during General ‘Thank You’ Raheel Shareef’s reign by his ISPR chief Asim Bajwa. Facilitated, as always, by a PML-N government that had raced the cyber crime law through Parliament.

This chapter began as a riposte to a television programme where Shehbaz Gill was being interviewed by a panel of ARY anchors, and he was allowed to go on an extended monologue in which he spoke of the constitutional duty of all members of the army, and how their oaths obligated them to deny unconstitutional commands.

Sedition was the roar the next day, to the point that those listening on in silence, such as Arshad Sharif and Khawar Ghumman were also booked after random people in random cities decried the insult to their honour and that of the military.

Gill’s treatment was to become an example of comeuppance for some, and an example of illegal high-handedness that galvanised many others. He was paraded before cameras on the way to court in the middle of a panic attack; images purporting to be of him in various forms of undress were circulated across the internet while his treatment became something Imran used repeatedly in rallies to hit out against one particular individual in the military establishment he later named — after having called him ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Mister Z’ until then.


September saw the ban on Imran Khan’s live speeches being lifted temporarily by a brave Islamabad High Court. This was a ban that used Altaf Hussain’s anti-state speeches and subsequent ban as precedent. It was applied to a former prime minister, naming a public servant and accusing him of violating his oath of office and being complicit in the torture of a political worker. But the IHC suspended it, not on the premise that the ban itself was ridiculous and an unreasonable fetter upon free speech by a regulator who has no authority, but because the wrong sections of the law were used by Pemra.

The latest of the ECP and its neutrality also proceeded, with Imran Khan’s Toshakhana reference now being provided with concrete evidence that the former prime minister was in the habit of taking gifts that were given to him when he was head of state, selling them, and then depositing parts of the sale proceeds with the Toshakhana as if he had purchased them beforehand.

The greatest portent of what had come before in the shape of the PDM government and what was to follow on the economic front arrived in the last days of September in the shape of an absconding accused, riding on the prime minister’s plane back from London.

Freed of chronic back pain, Ishaq Dar set foot in the country and brought with him his thick threats and thin skin. Among his luggage was also what threatens to be the final nail in Pakistan’s elite capture economic coffin — the nail that Dar uses to peg the dollar to an artificial position of weakness vis-à-vis the rupee. The same judicial system that had ordered the auctioning of Dar’s family home a few years ago due to his absconding now suspended his arrest warrants, and Dar was a senator again after taking a several years’ delayed oath. The next day, he was finance minister again.

Dar last left in 2016 after decimating exports; he is currently swimming through December 2022 after destroying everything, including the IMF talks that had so painstakingly been brought back on track after Imran petrol bombed them.

Meanwhile, his Twitter account regularly shares Quranic verses that promise to ward off depression. His television appearances include threats directed at the IMF when it asks a borrower to keep its promises and international ratings agencies when they give Pakistan’s rent-seeking elite and their economy poor ratings. If you want a word out of him, it’s best to run after him with a mic while praising his predecessor, Miftah Ismail.

Also towards the end of September, we saw Gill get bail after a torturous month behind bars. Because the charges are never going to stick unless we go full kangaroo with our courts, the people who bring these charges know its never about getting convictions. For them, it’s just about teaching lessons in the time you have the accused in custody.

So the innocent-until-proven-guilty accused is made to regret their actions in every hour that our judicial system can be abused and exposed by the state — through delays and excuses.

The month that Gill spent in prison did not teach him any manners like the people that put him there wanted, but perhaps it taught him enough not to celebrate the establishment and its designs ever again. Although experiencing torture doesn’t really do anything too permanent, as the supine and pliant Rana Sanaullah of today shows.

The month’s last day saw Maryam Nawaz’s accountability conviction in the Avenfield reference wiped clean by an Islamabad High Court, which took four years to finish hearing an appeal against a trial that had taken half that time to conduct.


In October, we saw another shining example of Pakistan’s justice system when a special court allowed the acquittal applications of the PM-CM father-son combo of Shehbaz and Hamza Sharif in what was a comprehensive case of money laundering built against them by the FIA.

Without having any answers to the layered web of money transacted through the accounts of petty wage earners in the family businesses and ending up in the Sharifs’ family accounts, we were shown images of garlanded Sharifs and promised it had all been a witch hunt. The witnesses had all recanted and the damning documentary chain of evidence was no longer being relied upon by the prosecutor for the state — papa and son having become the captains of its two biggest ships in the intervening period.

Television commentator and journalist Arshad Sharif was murdered in the last week of October, having earlier fled Pakistan to escape harassment in the shape of random dozens of FIRs filed against him and the police being put on the lookout for him.

Reportedly having made the cardinal sin of becoming an asset and then going rogue, Arshad was harassed out of Dubai using influence we are promised was not on the part of the establishment. He fled to Kenya, where the police assassinated him and did a poor a job of covering it up as a case of mistaken identity.

We were then witness to an unprecedented joint press conference of the DG ISI and DG ISPR, who took clear political swipes at the country’s former chief executive. The very relevant question of who lodged the FIRs against Arshad Sharif in Pakistan was ignored and no media person present at the occasion bothered to ask. When presented with the cleanliness of their past record, we were all asked to point out instances of non-neutrality — but we could only pick events after March 2021.


November began with the second time someone crossed a redline, and this time it was the PTI’s Azam Swati calling out COAS General Bajwa. Swati made the mistake of thinking that in his last month of service, a Pakistani army chief is anything but the lord of all he surveys, and tweeted against him.

He was picked up by the FIA and he claimed that they handed him over to intelligence officers. When he was retrieved via court order, Swati committed a bigger offence: he started naming serving army officers as having been his torturers and abductors.

Later, he doubled down on his claims of torture and abuse, and at the time of writing is still suffering in a prison somewhere after being flitted around at least three provinces after being rearrested six weeks later for defamation.

His house is also suddenly the focus of an investigation of improper construction and illegal capture by the Capital Development Authority, which was of no concern to them when Swati misused his political clout to influence police into taking action against poor farmers whose cow was found grazing on the encroached land.

On November 6, Imran Khan was shot at while his long march meant for Islamabad — but really just a last gasp at trying to influence the appointment of the country’s army chief — proceeded through Wazirabad. He thankfully survived, and proceeded to spend the rest of November trying to nominate Faisal Naseer in an FIR his own allied government in Punjab wouldn’t register.

The middle of November was filled with the highest stress the country has seen in the past four years, because the chief was going and the PML-N wanted to feel like they were in charge for the day and appoint the next chief. Because they have made such fantastic appointments to the post in the past.

If journalists who cover the Pindi beat are to be believed, there were several cooks trying to get at the pot. In the end, the Sharifs got what they wanted — the only man in the list who they knew, or at least believed, had cause to dislike Imran Khan due to an unceremonious ouster as DG ISI during the former premier’s tenure.

On the day the names for the new chief were finally going to go to the PM House, after they had been repeatedly asked for over the prior weeks, the news of Gen Bajwa and his family’s Rs12 billion worth of assets’ accumulation broke.

The biggest protest came from Ishaq Dar, not about the alleged largesse bestowed upon these public servants being too obscene and out of touch with a poor nation’s reality, but about how the person who leaked these confidential documents would be brought to justice.


December saw the continued resurgence of the cancer that is the TTP, due in part once again to our state’s inexplicable desire to talk to them as brethren and cut peace deals with them as equals. The latest process, absent democracy, was spearheaded by the now retired Faiz Hameed, under Bajwa. Their wholesale promises of autonomy to the TTP are being repaid with jail breaks in Bannu cantonment and attacks resurfacing all across the north-west of the country.

On Christmas and Jinnah’s birthday alone, six security personnel were martyred while more than 15 people were injured in different incidents of terrorism across Balochistan.

As the sun sets on 2022, the political merry-go-round continues, with the Punjab Assembly once again playing the game of musical chairs. Imran Khan is yet again threatening to announce dates on which he will announce the date to dissolve the KP and Punjab assemblies.

Meanwhile, millions of Pakistanis whose lives were upended by the floods, are forced to spend the winter under the open skies. Also, sky high are the prices of wheat and all other essential commodities that they rely on.

The state of our education (and our future prospects) remains dismal as summed up by an Aga Khan University study, quoted by Miftah Ismail in Dawn: “Only 5pc of the kids in Class 8 could answer a simple arithmetic question and just 10pc could answer a basic science question.”

The state of our economy, meanwhile, is summed up from a viral WhatsApp meme — the wedding halls and restaurants are full, burning electricity fuelled by furnace oil we can’t afford to buy; the rich are importing duty free electric Audis, whilst six weeks of import cover remains.

It wouldn’t be too morbid to say it feels like the band is playing its best music on the deck of the Titanic.

The author is a lawyer and political analyst, in which capacity he regularly appears on TV shows and has written for various publications such as Dawn, The News and The Friday Times.
He can be reached @Jaferii.



Sep 8, 2009
2022 is the year the link between People of Pakistan and Army was broken
The trust in courts fully collapsed

The Peak was the reluctance to file FIR for assassination attempt on Life of honorable Imran Khan (Real Prime Minister of Pakistan)


Sep 8, 2009
After 1971, equally disturbing year in Pakistan's history 100% courtesy of Army and Janrail

They worked really hard to hide this part of history in History books or Pak studies books I studied but the truth had to come out and the dirty dealing of Janrails of Past became 100% exposed

Books hide death of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, that his vehicle was left on highway broken down for 2-3 hours. And Fatima Jinah was not allowed to speak to News papers.

Books hide 1971 Election detail who was real winner and why was the winner not allowed to form government

2022 was a resurgence of same mindset based on Superiority which continued to interfere with Imran Khan the Honorables' Government

Also, the back door connection between Army, News Channels and Judges got exposed
Last edited:

Crimson Blue

Nov 7, 2019
United States
On December 26, 2022, finally some hope arises:

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